The International Diamond Conference – Mines to Market organised by The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council was inaugurated in Mumbai today by Chief Guest Hon’ble Shri Piyush Goyal, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines, Government of India. The conference is being held in the 50th year of the GJEPC’s establishment.
Praveenshankar Pandya, Chairman GJEPC welcomed Shri Goyal, as well as the other dignitaries sharing the dais including Hon’ble Walter K. Chidakwa Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Republic of Zimbabwe; Paul Rowley, Executive Vice President Global Sightholder Sales, De Beers; Andrey Polyakov, Vice President, ALROSA; Stephane Fishcler Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC); and other dignitaries and guests present on the occasion.
Praising Shri Goyal’s energetic and involved approach Pandya recalled the time he had extended his help to the gems and jewellery industry to solve the excise issue. Pandya went on to say: “Finding new diamond mines is always very difficult and we look forward to your support to explore the opportunities in India. Our country has a lot of deposits, and a few years back, Rio Tinto had found a viable deposit in Bunder in Chattisgarh. However, the project was embroiled in several issues, including legal ones, which led Rio Tinto exiting Bunder and gifting the project to the Chattisgarh government. We urge you to use your good offices to take this project forward.”
Walter K. Chidakwa Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Republic of Zimbabwe, made an impassioned speech on the necessity of the diamond sector of Zimbabwe helping to alleviate poverty and creating opportunities for the poor children of his country. He outlined the huge potential which existed in Zimbabwe and called upon the world, and specifically India, to help realise it. “We also want to become diamond manufacturers, jewellery manufacturers,” Chidakwa said. “I request India to give us the technology and training to help us achieve our potential so that we can provide health welfare and education to our poor children.”
Russell Mehta, Vice Chairman, GJEPC made a presentation on India and the current situation facing the industry in the country. “The diamond industry is the original “Make in India” industry,” he said. He pointed out that when exports first began in 1966, polished diamond exports amounted US$ 17 million, representing about 3% of the world polished diamond market by value; in 2016 polished diamond exports had reached US$ 17 billion and represented 75% of the world market by value.
He went on to trace the historical development of the industry through its various phases, and described the tailwinds which had led to its tremendous growth in early years; and the headwinds which the industry was now facing.
In order to tackle these and other issues, Mehta called for growing the market for diamonds and diamond jewellery; ensuring that synthetics were kept strictly segregated from the natural diamond pipeline and transforming the diamond industry into a transparent, compliant and cashless one – a “Swachch Diamond Trade” in line with the “Swachch Bharat” campaign of the Prime Minister of India.
Making his address Shri Goyal said “It is good to see the diamond industry of world converge in India. It is an industry which has impacted several lives in Africa, India and businesses all over the world.”
Responding to Chidakwa’s speech the Indian Minister said “India will not be found wanting where support to your industry is concerned; Indian companies will not think of exploiting – only supplementing and supporting -- your industry.”
Shi Goyal noted that in the 50 years of the Council’s existence – and 19 years of autonomy – the industry had grown from few millions to billions of dollars of exports. “I do believe that the industry and the Government have to work together in partnership on the basis of trust,” he said. He went on to say that the industry has to transform itself in many ways. “We have to re-orient ourselves to a different way of doing business,” he stated. Saying that the recent demonetisation represented an opportunity, he called upon the diamond industry to implement fully transparent systems.
“Regarding the mining section, we will see what can be done,” Shri Goyal said. He explained the Government’s present policy of not granting Prospecting and Mining licences at one go, as there was a potential for misuse and corruption to creep in. He said that anyone could come forward to explore prospective areas. And once the results were in, a transparent bidding process would be held to award the mining licence.
Shri Goyal advised the industry to map out further growth for itself. “The time has come for India to lead the world and not to follow it,” he exhorted.
Further, he asked the Indian diamantaires get involved in the exploration process by hiring the best talent in the world. “Then you will become truly self-reliant and not run out of rough diamonds for your industry. And one can say “Diamonds are Forever in India”,” he concluded.
Hon’ble Shri Piyush Goyal, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines, Government of India seen lighting the inaugural lamp with Praveenshankar Pandya, Chairman GJEPC. Looking on (from ext left) Hon’ble Walter K. Chidakwa Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Republic of Zimbabwe; and Andrey Polyakov, Vice President ALROSA; and Sabyasachi Ray, Executive Director, GJEPC.